Christmas Pudding

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(makes 2 x 2L puddings) or one large and 12 small puddings

For the Pudding

200g butter at room temperature

200g brown sugar

350ml Brandy, rum or marsala

4 eggs

100g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

70g fresh white breadcrumbs

zest of 1 large lemon

zest of 1 large orange 

1 apple, grated

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

pinch salt

200g currants

200g sultanas

200g raisins

150g dried fig, diced

150g diced apricot

150g dates, chopped

150g dried prunes, chopped

150g crystallised ginger, chopped (optional)

150g slivered almonds

150g mixed peel

220g dried cranberries

Marsala cream sauce

250ml milk

250ml cream

100g sugar

6 egg yolks

1 vanilla bean

60ml marsala (or more to taste)

For the Pudding

Grease and line pudding basins or dariole moulds and set aside. In a large saucepan that will take the size of the pudding mould, place a trivet or an upturned plate and fill with water to 2/3rds of the way up the side of the pudding mould. Bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to a rolling simmer. If baking small puddings, prepare a roasting pan that will fit dariole moulds, fill the moulds with pudding mix. Pour boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the moulds and cover with a sheet of baking paper and then cover with foil to seal. Bake for about 1½ to 2hrs.

Combine all the dried fruit, grated apple and zests and add the alcohol and mix well. Set aside overnight, or for a few days or weeks to macerate. 

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and spices and add the breadcrumbs. Beat the butter and the sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the dry ingredients, then the fruit. Spoon into the prepared pudding moulds leaving about an inch from the top. Cover with greased paper and foil and seal with a lid or tie very tightly with string, place into the saucepan and steam the pudding for approximately 5 hours, topping up occasionally with water if needed.

Allow to cool. De-mould and wrap in plastic wrap or muslin cloth and store up to 3-4 months in a cool place. To reheat place covered pudding in a pot of boiling water and steam for 2 hours. To serve: Place the pudding on a large plate and serve with marsala cream sauce.

For the Marsala sauce
Heat the milk, cream and scraped vanilla bean. Combine the egg yolks and sugar. Slowly pour over the hot milk mixture onto the eggs and whisk. Pour back into the pan and cook over a low heat stirring constantly until it starts to thicken but do not scramble. Strain immediately and serve with your pudding and a few fresh berries to garnish

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